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Faster Forward
Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 09/16/2011

MeriTalk awards honor good, simple IT ideas

Winner Aung Gye (holding the check) with MeriTalk CEO Steve O’Keeffe, left, and Mark Forman of the Office of Management and Budget. (MERITALK)
In June, I wrote about the Merit Awards, a contest offering $50,000 to the best, innovative idea to reform government in a cheap and simple way. This week, award sponsor MeriTalk named its winner: Aung Gye of the Federal Highway Administration, who proposed that government organizations share assets such as vehicles, office equipment and facilities through a centralized, nationwide database. That way, he said in his one-page proposal, agencies can make the most of their unused assets and reduce costs for taxpayers.

“By helping one agency use another agency’s unused automobiles, construction equipment, office space or other government assets, we can maximize taxpayer dollars and optimize the assets themselves,” Gye said in a statement about his award.

The aim of the awards was to generate ideas for government innovation, something that MeriTalk founder Steve O’Keeffe joked in an interview with Faster Forward was viewed by many as an oxymoron. But four of the five finalists in this competition were government employees, he said in his Tuesday blog post about the awards.

Other finalists’ ideas were to create a mobile U.S. passport application; to develop a mobile early warning system for natural disasters using data from the NOAA, National Weather Service, FEMA and other agencies; a proposal to streamline government classification definitions; and a proposal to reform how the government awards contracts.

There’s no word on whether Gye’s plan will be implemented, MeriTalk said, but O’Keeffe said in his post that he hopes the government will sit up and take notice of the innovative ideas that have bubbled up from its own ranks.

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